8 2013 Free Agents Earning Huge Paychecks in the Playoffs

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2013

8 2013 Free Agents Earning Huge Paychecks in the Playoffs

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    The NFL playoffs are supposedly all about the pursuit of a championship. That's all fine and dandy, but a few players are also looking to bolster their wallets for next season.

    I'm sure cashing in isn't at the forefront of their thoughts while their teams are pursuing a championship. However, it's not a bad bonus to tack onto the end of a fine playoff run.

    So whose bank balance should take a significant hike based on Wildcard Weekend? Let's check it out.

Joe Flacco, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

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    Did you know this is Joe Flacco's contract year? Funny, it's the first I'm hearing about it.

    Or, if he had his way, it should be. 

    His season was decent enough, but we can stop with the elite talk. Throwing 22 touchdown isn't enough to reach the signal-calling stratosphere.

    But throwing two touchdowns and notching a 125.6 quarterback rating in the playoffs is cash-worthy at least.

    He only completed 52.2 percent of his passes against the Indianapolis Colts and was bailed out a bit by Anquan Boldin. However, having faith in your big-time receivers and giving them a chance to make a play is what solid quarterbacking is all about.

Matt Birk, Center, Baltimore Ravens

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    Matt Birk was a big reason for Flacco's success. His unit kept the contract-year quarterback upright, which is a huge advantage when passing. 

    Really. It is. I looked it up.

    Anyways, Birk's play caught Pro Football Focus' eye and garnered a special mention. Considering how much those guys like football, that's impressive.

    The Baltimore Ravens would surely welcome back their stalwart center. The challenge is talking him out of retirement.

Backup Quarterbacks Everywhere

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    That's the best one-word summation of Joe Webb's performance against the Green Bay Packers. Although what do you expect from the first quarterback to ever start a playoff game after not having attempted a single pass during the regular season.

    It's true. Look it up

    He completed just 11 of his 30 attempts. Matt Moore and Brian Hoyer are already counting their money.

Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers

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    Maybe Greg Jennings' sister was right. He is pretty good.

    In all seriousness, after a year filled with injuries, Jennings needed to reestablish himself as a big-dog receiver.

    He had already done so in the final regular season game against the Minnesota Vikings with eight catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns. And he didn't do anything to hurt himself with his 15.3-yard average in the playoffs.

    It wasn't a huge game for Jennings, but he is staying in the public eye.

Alan Branch, Defensive Tackle, Seattle Seahawks

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    If you didn't pay attention closely, it would be understandable if you missed Alan Branch's impact.

    Especially when you consider that the Washington Redskins averaged 4.5 yards per carry.

    But his presence was a huge reason why the 'Skins didn't keep forcing it up the middle.

    He's a big man and he uses his weight well. Somebody will find that enticing.

Paul Kruger, Linebacker, Baltimore Ravens

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    Recently, I mentioned that the Baltimore Ravens needed another pass rusher. 

    Apparently, that message was received by Paul Kruger.

    He was dominant against the Indianapolis Colts with three sacks and five quarterback hurries. Granted, it was against a Colts line that enjoys watching Andrew Luck run for his life.

    Or it just seems like that.

    Regardless, Kruger stepped up in a big way against the Colts and will need to do so again against the Denver Broncos if the Ravens are to have a chance.

Erik Walden, Linebacker, Green Bay Packers

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    For once, I don't agree with Pro Football Focus.

    The good folks at PFF assigned Erik Walden a grade of -2.4, which doubled as the worst grade given to any Green Bay Packers defender.

    However, I'd argue that he performed his role in the Packers' defensive scheme very well. He was a big reason why the Packers were finally able to keep Adrian Peterson from rushing for a couple hundred yards.

Sam Shields, Cornerback, Green Bay Packers

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    Finally, PFF and I are back on the same page. Sam Shields just balled out against the Minnesota Vikings.

    He racked up a 3.1 rating with PFF (yes, that is good), and was a force altogether.

    Not only did he cover well, but he notched six tackles for good measure.